how did i get here?

my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

daydreams and remembrances of the Beach Bunny that was and who she is trying to breathe life back into

i spend a lot of time alone. utterly and completely alone. i fill my own time with my work. i fill the air with movies, tv, or music. i do, upon occasion, speak out loud - to God - to my Dragon - but i am very aware that my voice is the only one in the room and more, the only one that will ever be in the room.

i remember who i once was. i was a wild and crazy Bunny who wasn't afraid of, okay, i was a afraid of a few things. i do not like mice that run at you like some crazy Hessian. i do not like jumping spiders. i am frenzied in front of a cockroach. but in the face of adventure, the wild and crazy Bunny that i was was curious, investigative, and good to go.
after my mother died and my father told me he did not want me around much, i took a trip to Cancun with a girl i worked with at the ad. agency. i was still only a designer and "wrist" - i went to those expensive lunches, said nothing, and drew up the ideas bandied about.

when we landed in Cancun, it looked like they were still clearing the runway. men were out there with machetes wacking away at the jungle that, if you stood still and watched, was actually re-growing across the hard-packed dirt of the airport. there was no customs beyond, "hi," "hola," "welcome Norte Americanos." the bus that took us to the fancy new hotels that were still being built had locals climbing up on top to make room for us. tourists with American dollars road inside the bus on seats. the locals sat on top so we would be more inclined to spend those dollars.

so the adventure starts when my friend and i wanted to eat "in town." at that time, the town was strictly for the locals but we did not know that. no one at the hotel thought we'd venture into town. no busses ran at night. way out on the peninsula where the hotels had all that the tourists could want. but we wanted "real Mexican food." we walked the beach all the way down to the road that took us to town. we should have turned around when the jungle blocked out the sky but we were committed and stupid.

we got to town. 17 buildings. the only restaurant was open and we were grateful for the open doors and lights, and the wonderful smell of food. we were the only ones in there. the people who worked there were eating. everyone froze. us. them. oh, God. when i think back on it.

let me preference this part of the story with this. my friend said the only language she took in high school and college was English. i had taken Latin. we were in Mexico. M-E-X-I-C-O.

i, of course, brought out my book of English to Spanish translations. the people were incredibly nice if somewhat confused. one of the waiters kept coming over and touching my hair. i am a blonde and when i was 21, i was still closer to the towhead of my childhood than i am now. finally the elder man whose restaurant it obviously was smacked the boy on the back and sent him to the kitchen. "Lo siento." it was his son. i took my book back out and he leaned over me as i tried to say we were sorry to interrupt. we had just wanted to be part of the local community, to see the people of Cancun. he spoke little English but got it across that he was pleased with our intent, however, his place was not an actual restaurant. he served food but it was essentially a bar and that he would be more than happy to feed us but that we needed to leave very soon as the prostitutes would come in and right behind them, the men.

we inhaled our food and got out of there as the first groups of men showed up. we held hands as we tried to find our way back. we saw what we thought was a taxi and quickly went to hire him to take us back to the hotel. neither of us wanted to walk down that dark jungle road again.

it was a barn that had been turned into the police station and, all dressed up as we were, we looked like prostitutes. when i again pulled out that magic book one of the officers realized what had happened. he spoke English. i almost fell to my knees. he kept us segregated until he could explain to his captain what we had done.

visualize this. two white girls in their early 20s, all dressed up in a barn that the horse stalls were the cells. about 5 Mexican cops were laughing their heads off at us. the English-speaking cop took us back to the hotel in the only cop car they had. his own personal pickup. he put a blanket down for us because there was drying blood in the seat from a man who was jailed and waiting for the local doctor to take the bullet out of his arm.

see? Bunny had wild adventures.

and then she met her Dragon and the best adventure of her life started.

who could resist that face? that beard? if you're a beard person, his was gorgeous. he could shave it completely off and it would be back in full in two days. his eyes danced. his arms hugged. his fingers laced so nicely into mine. such a studmuffin. there. i said it. i am 52 and i said studmuffin. to me he is. was. still is. i see men. in stores. when i am out with my daughter. nothing. not a twinge of anything. dead battery. i look at his picture and i sigh. i swoon. i smile like a teenager in love. still. right now. today.
"if two were one then surely we." see his foot? i set that up. he would lean his foot against mine under tables. we would intertwine our legs and feet when we were on the sofa together and in bed. the only time his foot wasn't touching mine was when we walked or he was driving the car. i mean, we'd trip and the car, that would be dangerous.

but then my Dragon died and all the adventure went out of me. all my joys turned to such sorrow that, even in the Spring and i put on my Bunny flower clothes, i cannot find that wild Bunny in me who thought she could solve all her adventure problems with a translation book and an innocent smile.
she is what i want to bring back to life. that girl. that person i know i am. if my Dragon gets to look down from Heaven, i want him to smile. i want him to shake his head like he did so many times when i got into a predicament. like the time the tides cut me off from shore and i was stuck out on a rock. and he had to come through the rising water and save me.

he thought i was the funniest person he'd ever met. funny in word and deed.
that is the bunny i want to find through my daydreams and recollections. i will keep my Dragon close. some of him is in that little pendant around my neck. it has the moon and stars on it. Heaven. where my Dragon is. *sob sob wail sniffle* okay, back to work.

i see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


i have no words for this. i cannot speak to another month passing under the light of a full moon. that i miss him? oh, God, yes. that i want him back? t'would be my fondest desire yet unnatural. that i want to join him? it is not for me to choose the time or the how.

that i have to keep going? yes. i draw for him. i sew for him. i quilt for him. i write for him. i hope he can see. i hope he is proud. i close my eyes and remember all the other things i have made, and here his voice as he complimented me, and his eyes, that twinkle, that softening as his love put its warmth around me. he was my biggest fan.

i hope he is waiting.

please, dearest God, let him be waiting for me. "i want him so. i need him so. i love him so."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

glass, wood, quilts, and grief

i write for an online magazine-style website on a broad range of topics. photography, poetry, the history and geology of Cape Ann, architecture, art, and, yes, i write about grief. i received an email from a reader who was reflecting on one of my grief articles, Hitting “the Wall,” who said this:

It is hard for me to understand how you could be so sad and write something so full and beautiful. It's like a photonegative. I am seeing some glimmers that you might be starting to break the surface of your loss. You create such beauty, I hope that you would heal and continue to create such beauty. ……... So I truly hope that this is that wall that you will break through, and not the wall that keeps you from moving on.

i have been reflecting on this while i worked on a quilt today. the quilts are art. i am an artist. i write a blog titled, “The Art of Grief” but it was not meant as an advertisement for my art. i meant it as a metaphor for the art it takes to live with sorrow and the work it takes to strive to accept the scars it is going to leave.

then, as minds will do, my thoughts leapt to what it takes to create art, the particular mediums i use to create my own particular art.

stained glass: first, the colored glass is made using the float glass method. a continuous ribbon of liquid glass in a molten tin bath flows unhindered under the influence of gravity. glass has natural impurities but to get other colors, minerals or purified metal salts are added. then the top surface of the glass is subjected to nitrogen under pressure to obtain a polished finish, or something close to that. when i draw a design for glass, i have to stay aware that glass will only cut one way. curves can be done, but within the physics of glass. i draw wax lines on the glass and then cut it, snap it apart, and place it on my drawing like a puzzle piece. to weld the glass together, i cover each piece of glass with copper, flux it, and then heat the solder, melting it on the copper thereby joining the glass pieces to create my design. in short, fire, glasscutters, and more heat is what it takes to make a window.

carved wood: i get a piece of wood (or as photographed below, i am allowed to utilize a wooden beam) and select a tool to carve in or away the design i want to reveal. which tool i select depends upon the gouge or cut i wish to make. veining, fluters, chisels, skews, back bent or long-bent gougers, the main gist is that each one of these tools cuts deeply into the wood. i brush away the curls of wood that i do not want in the design, and they are tossed on the floor for later disposal. i literally cut the wood apart to find the vision i saw in it when i first picked it up.

quilts: i can make baby quilts for families whose babies have outgrown their adorable little clothes, wedding quilts out of brand new fabrics bought specifically for the occasion, and quilts from college t-shirts for the young man or woman who is graduating. i also make quilts from the clothing of the deceased. in all these cases, i have to cut the fabrics and clothes apart. i look at the piece and decide how it best fits into the design i have drawn. the only difficult quilt is the memory quilt. to do what i believe is honor to the clothes; i have to learn about the person who is no longer here to wear the clothes. to be blunt, someone has died.

my Dragon died and i am off alone on a flight i never wanted to take. for the rest of my life, there will be times when i go into myself to find him. he is my love, my inspiration. he is the one i always wanted to impress. i would sew or paint, photograph or carve, or build a stained glass window and could not wait to show him. i wanted to see his delight. i wanted to see his approval. i wanted to see him see me. and he did. he saw me before he knew what i did, but when he saw what i could make, it thrilled me to see him be in awe of me. no one has ever been in awe of me. it was so nice. and he knew my tattered self-esteem needed it. he never ever put me off. he always set aside whatever he was doing to come see what i had made.

i really miss that.

i need him so i have to go where he still lives - deep inside me. to express all the complicated feelings that go hand-in-hand with this sorrow, i am compelled to create things that i hope will withstand time.

to create all this art in these different mediums, if you look close enough, i have to cause damage. i have to break glass and then melt solder to bind the pieces. the wood i use is veined, gouged, and carved. the quilts are created by cutting apart the fabrics and clothes. each verb is a destructive verb. and that is sort of what life, and death, have done to me.

i kept thinking about what was written in the email, that i am sad yet my writing, to this person, is beautiful. it is hard for this person to see how it can be done. first let me say i am always humbled when anyone finds value in my words much less beauty. i write from the deepest well of sorrow and yet i know that some of the greatest works of literature are founded upon enormous sadness. i am in no way comparing my writing to the likes of Lewis or Twain or Beston who are only a few who have written eloquently on grief.

i believe all who write from the source of any intense pain and sense of loss write from their hearts and from that beauty and hope can be seen as we all struggle to accept what has happened. it is always my hope that sorrow does not keep anyone from expressing their thoughts. i have always believed that in shining a light into the darkness, the darkness cannot hide its cruelty. exposing it and acknowledging it means it can be dealt with and, with effort, controlled.

death took my husband. we had a deep and intense love. we flirted daily. we touched each other constantly. we talked all day every day. the handful of times he left the country to serve his country were our only separations. i am bereft without him yet i have to find my way. my way is hiding myself behind my art.

along this life without my beloved Dragon, i am discovering the hidden truth about grief - it alters a person at the very foundation of their being. whether a person appears to have "moved on" or is "getting better," at the core of them, they are changed. damage has been done to them, much like a woodcutter’s tool is damaging the wood that once was. a part of them has been carved out of their lives and they are different. this has to be accepted at the very least by the intimate survivor of the deceased. it would help if friends and family could see and accept it as well.

the author of the letter to me mentions the hope that i am “breaking through the surface of my loss.” i am still swimming. it has been 14 months now and the times of going under, to continue the metaphor, do not come as often, but they are still there. i have "gone under" twice yesterday and once today. having said that, i can see that i am improving.

i have heard it both ways. “The greatness of the love of the couple helps to heal the survivor more quickly.” and in another book by another expert on grief it was written, “The depth of the love between the couple can hinder the one left behind in getting over their grief. It may take years for them to claim true happiness again.”

see? no one knows. i do not know and i am living it. i do not know what is to come for me. i know only that i am now damaged. but i can still remember love, and express it. i can try to make something good because he lived. i have known a love i know will never come again. i can express it through my stained glass, my woodcarvings, my photography, my writing, and my quilts.

i have no idea what "moving on" means. where do i go from here without him who meant my whole world? if i am "moving on" it is a different person than the one before the moment of his death.

as for hitting the wall, it is a wall that will always be before me. i will come across over and over as i continue to have to live with my Dragon. it was there during my daughter’s wedding. it will be there again when my son marries. i may see it on a random day, some beautiful fall day with swirls of leaves falling in a crisp wind. the wall will be there each Christmas Eve when i lay down alone, year after year. and i may hit “the wall” when i am faced with my own death however it comes. if it is in any way a lengthy process, there will be times when i am left alone and i will see it as an insurmountable obstacle. my fears of dying alone, since he is not here to sit beside me, will make that wall seem to rise up into infinity. and i will have to climb it alone.

for now, i continue to walk forward through this different life alone, one step at a time. i will continue to create art and to create it, there will be, in a sense, some destruction. i will continue to write and it will be founded in pain. it is more a thing of who i am than what i do. i get ideas. i have to create them in whatever form seems to express them best.

from destruction can come beautiful things. fire creates glass. carving wood can give it a shape and form that is magical. fabrics and clothes have to be cut to sew and quilt a lasting, tangible memory. some of the most profound writing comes from authors expressing what their pain feels like. sadness can be a catalyst for deep introspection and out of that can come writing that can help others find their way.

and that is all i am trying to do. i hurt because i miss my husband. his death changed me. i am continuing. i am creating art. it is art born out of my grief. but i am enduring it. i feel burned, drowned, carved, and cut apart. but i love him. i want him to be proud of me. i do not want my children to worry about me. the art of grief is what i am doing with my sorrow. it is all done with my Dragon in mind.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

melancholia and poetry do not mix

I live inside my head

My head is where I live

I see him there most vibrantly

So, please, please, forgive.

I have no heart inside me

From inside me I withdrew the toll

I paid by giving him my heart to keep

And it left a great big hole.

He died and left me here alone

He left me when he died.

I know he didn’t want to go

and fate would not be denied.

My soul splintered when he left

Inside my soul is bereft

His death has left me lost and hurt

With a life that’s been set adrift.

Am I “getting better?”

“Getting better,” I cannot see.

How the hell do I “get better”

Since I am no longer “we?”

I do not want to grieve

Grief causes me great despair.

Return my Dragon to me right now

And we’ll just call it square.

Sigh, they’re not letting him come back

He won’t be returned to me

I will have to live without him near

As they have ignored my plea.

So I live inside my head these days

Yes, my head is where I live

It’s where I keep all my memories of us

So our life I can relive.

i sometimes wonder if anything i have done has been any good? has any one of the little ripples i have created in life moved or altered any collection of pine needles or leaves along any shoreline?

there's a visual for you. you can see it, can't you? you have walked up to the edge of a small pond and settle down close to its edge. there are millions of pine needles barely breaking the surface tension. floating there quietly. or leaves floating, gliding, moving and bumping into the edge where the ground meets the cool water.

throw in a little acorn or a small pebble and there are ripples. was that pebble large enough to move anything? did it make a difference in the symmetry of the little collection of flora at your feet?

does anyone even know what i am trying to describe?

i do not need to be important but i would like to think that something i have done has mattered. i am honored to have the children i have. that is something right there. i live quietly, not bothering anyone. but that is not anything. that does not leave any mark on the world. i am an artist. i am a writer. will my body of work outlast me? is it worth anything?

self-doubt is embarrassing. i wish he were here. i saw myself in his eyes and in his smile. i was (am?) loved by him. i wish i had gotten used to it while he was alive. but then it seemed an endearing quirk that i was always honored that he loved me. he would cuddle with me and caress me and tell me he loved me. he told me i was his world. to me, that is something. a man like him loved a woman like me.

he is my world. so where do i go from here? i am living the quiet life we loved, only i am living it without the cuddles, and his voice. the long years are stretching out like a one-point perspective drawing - in which parallel lines not parallel to the image appear to converge at a vanishing point. i will keep walking and living but there is no Dragon to the left, or right, not in front or behind me. just me walking that narrow little highway alone.

i am tired tonight. some things happened today that caused me distress. no need to go into it. tiny, heinous little things. had to get the ex involved. little troubles that build and weigh a person down.

like a finger pushing on a leaf trying to delicately float on the surface of a pond. enough pressure and it goes under for a while, then it pops back up a little worse for wear.

that is what i feel like tonight. a little worse for the wear.

i wish he were here to cuddle with. to caress my face. and to hear his whispered words of love.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

my interview

i was interviewed for the online newsletter to Hubpages. i thought i would share it simply because i was sort of proud and honored to be asked.

Please allow me to introduce one of my fellow hubbers whom I am very proud to present in this edition of Hubpages Weekly Interview Segment. For those of you who may not be familiar with her, it is my esteemed honor to present to you: WomanNShadows! She is a wonderful writer and also a strong lady who has been through a lot in her life, especially in the past year. I chose this exquisite woman because of her wonderfully expressive poems and hubs full of vigor and passion. I can relate to what she has been through in her life and I give her so much respect for being able to open her heart to the world and for allowing us to see who this great love of hers was. Using her memories and everlasting love she has immortalized her beloved’s legacy through her wonderful written word.

1.WomanNShadows, Could you describe the meaning of your profile name? And why you chose it?

i chose the name womanNshadows many years ago, when i first made my presence known online. everyone has a screen name. this one is mine. i have not had what could be called an easy life. it has been one where i felt i lived on the periphery of everything and everyone. it seemed fitting to call myself where i have sort of lived.

2. You mention a “Dragon” in many of your poems. For those who do not understand who that represents, can you please explain who that is? And why you chose that name?

my Dragon is my husband's nickname. he earned it as a Force Recon Marine during his second tour in Vietnam. years later, when we were first introduced, he said he could be my "knight in shining armor." i told him i didn't want a knight as knights were owned by those they had pledged themselves to. i told him i was looking for a dragon because they were old and wise and could not be fooled easily, were intensely loyal only to those who earned the right, and were vicious fighters protecting what they cared about. he smiled at me and our relationship started.

3. Several of your hubs mention the ocean and a special island you loved. Can you please tell us how these places have inspired you? Where is your favorite place?

my Dragon and i lived in Rockport, Massachusetts. the coastline is rocky and very austere. the fetch across the water from Europe has nothing in its way to slow the waves coming across. they can explode against the rocks so violently. there is such awesome power there and i always saw a beautiful kind of symmetry in the forms it took, arching back on itself or falling over and forward, as if trying to consume these enormous boulders of granite. my island is Straitsmouth Island. on it is an abandoned lightkeeper's house and a working but essentially useless lighthouse. there is a horn that sounds every 5 or 6 second if there is fog coming but with the latest in technology floating out in the water inside buoys, even it is superfluous. the Aududon Society controls it but is letting the house and the history die. it's off limits to visitors; being left to the birds. all the money raised goes to another island, Thatcher, with it's twin lights. my husband and i always dreamed of buying the island, rebuilding the old keeper's house and living out there, our own sanctuary surrounded by the ocean, reclaimed, and its wonderful history and stories brought back to life from the basement of the town's public library.

4. How did you find Hubpages? And what do you enjoy most about the site?

to be perfectly honest, after my husband died, i needed to find ways to make a living while i wait on the VA to process my claim for pension. i do not own a car and pretty much barely get by. finding a job at my age has been hard. grieving has left me drained. i was doing an online search for ways to make money at home and i found Hubpages. i like the freedoms allowed to writers here. i also like the sense of community.

5. What authors, on and off of Hubpages inspire you the most? And why?

on Hubpages, to name just one since there are so many, i like reading Ginn Navarre. she has wonderful stories that she tells from actually having lived her life, a life she proudly claims has not been a bed of roses. i like stories from people who have endured and survived. to me, scars, visible on a body of flesh or a body of writing, have always been a symbol of strength. off Hubpages i read Robert Young Pelton, Frederick Forsyth, Laurence Gonzales, Nelson DeMille, Dr. Richard Feynman, an endless list as i am a biblio-holic. i like survival stories, intrigue, and, well, Feynman was so in love with the world, with his science, i find magic in his explanations.

6. I know many writers such as myself who use our personal pains and tragedies as influences in our writings that in the process actually works as a cathartic release. Do you feel that your poetry is a healing source for your past experiences?

yes. sometimes it falls out so easily. other times it's like trying to build a stone wall one word at a time. the Christmas Eve poem, though, i wrote in half an hour. what can i say? it was a very bad day missing my Dragon and my island and the ocean. it nailed my feelings at that moment and though my grief wasn't lessened, at least someone was going to know i was "out there" and how bad it can be. i was hoping misery loved company.

7. When you are not online publishing your poetry what do you enjoy to do in your spare time?

i am polishing 3 novels i've written to get to the point of finding representation. i sew and quilt. my home business is textile art - embellishing jeans and the big thing, making quilts from the clothing of the deceased. it is one answer to the question of what to do with the clothes and it gives a tangible solace to those who grieve. i have done them for any and every member of a family. it brings me a veil of peace that i can slip on when i am tired or worried.

8. I have noticed you are quite the photographer. What are your favorite scenes to capture? Do you have any other hobbies?

i like outdoors, of course, the sea, gulls, but mountains, deserts, anywhere outside. i like to capture people working. i have several series of lobstermen working their boats, plying the waters. one day standing out on the Dog Bar in Gloucester, i took a series of shots of a boat in distress due to the coming storm and the already rough waters. i wish i could have filmed it because behind me were a couple of Coasties who had walked out of Eastern Point Light. one was on some kind of hand-held radio keeping in contact with the captain. i could hear both voices. as the captain got in sight of, and then around the end of the Dog Bar, there was a sudden lessening of that edge in his voice. you know that sound, that rawness that people have when they are in a life and death situation. hearing his voice change when he knew he had made it, survived another day out on the ocean is something i will always remember. like they advertise, "it's not only fish you're buying. it's mens' lives."

9. You and I have both lost loved ones suddenly. Both of us share a common bond of losing our partners. Both of us also have experiences losing a parent to Cancer as well. Out of all the tragedies you have faced, what would you say gives you the strength to be the strong woman you are?

my Dragon, my husband. he came deep into the shadows to get me. he understood me and gave me love and hope. i try to live graciously and honorably, as he did, so that when i die i will be allowed to go find him.

10. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today? Any inspirational advice you would like to share with your fellow hubbers?

some of, well, most of my answers have been so heavy, how about some of my favorite bumper sticker quotes from my collection? "Don't steal. The government hates competition." "Never do anything you don't want to explain to the paramedics." "Animal testing is futile. The animals always get nervous and give the wrong answers."

and advice for my fellow hubbers, my last bumper sticker: "Always proofreed. You might something out."

Again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

the death of kickass bunny

this morning, something terrible happened that i simply cannot shake. i am writing about it to try to let some of it go.

there was a bunny who lived in the stand of trees across from my apartment. when i first noticed him, i always walked my dogs away from him (or her) and spoke softly to him. i gave him his part of the yard because i love him. he is so handsome. he guarded a tree directly across from my balcony and one day i saw this phenomenal act of nature. i caught it as a series of photos and that is when i named him "kickass bunny."

there was this standoff. i could see kickass bunny trembling, but he held the crow's stare with a steely one of his own.

he countered every move the crow made. kickass bunny was not going to back down.

then i watched the big chase. every action film has one. reality proved no less action packed.

kickass bunny gave no ground and kept after that crow until it flew away. i was so relieved.

day after day i watched over kickass bunny. i even alerted the front office to tell the yard men to be careful when they mowed. and they were. i was thrilled after they left to see kickass bunny bounding back out in the yard.

we had this relationship, imagined on my part. i felt he had gotten used to me and my dogs. i never let them bark at him. we always gave him a wide berth. he was kickass bunny and he deserved the respect of distance. he had grown used to me, i felt. he had stopped cowering and had started raising himself up on his back legs to see me. his ears would move forward as if he were curious about me but not afraid. his little nose would twitch just a little bit. he never seemed nervous when i was around. and so i fell in love with kickass bunny.

this morning, two dogs off leash with no owner in sight targeted my little kickass bunny. they worked in tandem and killed him. i heard his scream. i will never forget that sound. i saw the dogs trotting off into the woods, one of them carrying his limp bunny body in its mouth.

i have been crying off and on all day. i will never see his little head pop up out of the grass again. he is gone. he died in terror. i know. it is nature. dogs will be dogs. but there is a leash law here and i cannot stop myself from viciously thinking that if those dogs had been on a leash, my kickass bunny would be settling in for the night tonight. and i would see him in the morning. it is a stupid thing to be upset over, but it was that scream. such a soul-wrenching sound from a silent little bunny.

i let myself get attached. but it isn't as if he died of natural causes, or just disappeared one day to never return. i saw it happen and it was pointless. i am angry about it and so very upset.

i will miss you so very much, kickass bunny. i think i am crying over you because, well, to be perfectly honest, i sort of thought maybe my Dragon had shown up in bunny form to come check on me. like my own personal version of "To Dance With The White Dog."

i love you, kickass bunny. i will never forget you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

all to myself

it has been a long, long, very long week. there will be another one next week. and, God willing and the creek don't rise, another one after that. and not because i am alone.

i know how to live alone. i have proven over the last 14 months that i can endure enormous amounts of time utterly alone. i big part of the overall grief network has little to do with my situation. i had my children in my 20s. they are grown therefore i cannot include myself in the conversations of widows(ers) with children at home. i do not work outside my apartment so there are no work stories. i am not elderly nor am i youthful. we had not been married for 20 or 30 or 40 years so i am excluded from the "years and years together" crowd. we came to each other late. we missed so much together and were busy making good use of the time we had. we were in love and we love each other. both of those definitions. but now, now i am a middle-aged woman who lost the only man she will be capable of loving.

so i know how to live alone. i am hurting because i have to live without him. the accumulation of all these days, weeks, months without him to talk to is getting to me.

i tripped outside yesterday. some hole in the ground that the recently cut grass covered. it jars you, that kind of fall? it jars your ribs and your shoulders. i protected my knees though. i already have bone chips floating around there. i do not want anymore. my ankle is swollen today though. i have to walk the dogs in my duck house slippers. i duct taped a sock to it for support. my hand has a nice bruise but i can grip. i can sew.

he would have fussed over me. not gushed. Marines do not gush. but he would have done a manly fussing over me. "do you want more tea?" "here's the remote." "what color thread? where do you keep the thread anyway?" "why are you smiling at me and why do you want the camera?" i would be ensconced in bed right now, in the safety and comfort of his arms instead of waiting for Captain Generic to kick in.

i did not even bother to tell my daughter. no good would come from it. she would worry that i am fumbling around over here, a graceless clod. i cannot let her worry about me. i am sure life has some perfectly heinous thing waiting for me and i will really need her. i will not cry wolf until there really is a wolf at the door. sorry. pity party over.

"if i am alone now, it's by design. i only own myself, but all of me is mine."

i have thought about this. i have thought it through. another man? my stomach churns. having some man hold my hand again? my heart flutters in panic. how many men out there have hands as rough and scarred as his? how many have that laugh that made my heart dance? how many have that smile that made me so weak? how many have stories like his? how many dragons are there out there?

i was married to a man with soft hands. a pretty boy with a dark side. i was not looking for anyone when i met my Dragon. a rugged man who knew the ins and outs of darkness and yet, his soul is so bright and warm. no fire burned as hot as his vitality and sense of fun and adventure. he has mad skills. magic. he is magic.

i miss him. i long for his company. that face that looks at me, incredulous that i want, need to have, absolutely must take another picture of him.

my daughter tries so very hard to make sure. i cannot stress her with this. i cannot call on her for the company i would like to have. the companionship i want to have ........ him. i only want to talk about him. i guess it is because i live alone.

"all to myself i find the way
back to each golden yesterday,
faring in fancy until i stand
clasping your ready, loving hand;
the picture seems half true, half dream,
and i keep its color and its gleam
all to myself.
all to myself i hum again
fragments of some old-time refrain,
something that comes at fancy's choice,
and i hear the cadence of your voice:
sometimes 'tis dim, sometimes 'tis clear,
but i keep the music that i hear
all to myself.
all to myself i hold and know
all of the days of long ago --
wonderful days when you and i
owned all the sunshine in the sky:
the days come back as the old days will,
and i keep their tingle and their thrill
all to myself.
all to myself! my love, do you
count all the memories softly, too?
summer and autumn, winter, spring,
the hopes we cherish and everything?
they course my veins as a draft divine,
and i keep them wholly, solely mine --
all to myself.
all to myself i think of you,
think of the things we used to do,
think of the things we used to say,
think of each happy, bygone day;
sometimes i sigh and sometimes i smile,
but i keep each olden, golden while
all to myself."
i love you, Dragon. i'm still here, breathing, living; just not as much living. not like i did with you. i am not fun anymore. i am not happy anymore. i am not whole anymore. i am sorry. i just really need you to "come through the darkness and save me, for i am alone."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dragon turned loose

Dragon is fourth from the left? the breadth of his shoulders and back look right. he told me of one time when you had a war photographer with you, but he never had any of the photos.

i miss him telling me his stories. i pray he felt good about himself before he died. i pray for him every day. i talk to him every day. a lot. i wish he were still here. i miss him so very much. it almost seems wrong that the world, that life can go on without him.

there should not be a world without a dragon in it.
thank you for calling and getting a copy of the photo. thank you for sending it to me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

the day my Dragon gave

{first of all, let me humbly apologize for the two black smudges that appear on some of my photographs. pixel loss is a terrible thing. i am saving for a new digital.}

i did not fall asleep until 4 AM last night. i had to get up to take my dogs out at half past 6 but then i went back to sleep for a couple of hours. it has been a very long week emotionally for no apparent reason other than i miss him and i feel like i am walking through quicksand.

i went to the widow's meeting again. i just wanted to see people, just sit in a room with some people and not be alone. one of the widow's came and picked me up. she's getting married in June but she still wants to attend the meetings and she graciously took me and brought me home.

something happened while i was there. someone saw me. chillinwithlemonade, another blogger, in fact the one who got me started, looked at my face and saw how alone i feel and how much i hurt. it was a significant event for me. someone saw behind the facade and saw the crumpled me that i am inside. thank you, sister dear, for recognizing in me what is also in you.

so i am very tired on this beautiful day. i plan on taking Captain Generic tonight and try to sleep, but only after Mega Piranha on SyFy. a girl has to treat herself on a Saturday night.

i took a break from the quilt i am designing and took the dogs out for a quick walk and low and behold, the sky was dramatically gorgeous. my Dragon was telling me to keep looking up, not down at my feet, but up at him. the mares tails are beautiful. so on behalf of my Dragon whose wings brought the breeze that instigated my looking up, and to God who created the palette so blue and the clouds so thin and swirling, here are the photos i took with some passages i cling to.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ~ Corinthians 13:7-8

I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. ~ Song of Solomon 7:10

I do not wish any companion in the world but you. ~ The Tempest ~ Shakespeare

For where thou art, there is the world itself, And where thou art not, desolation. ~ Henry IV ~ Shakespeare

and my personal favorite: I found the one whom my soul loves. ~ Song of solomon 3:4

i love you, my dear, with all that i am and all i was ever going to be. i know that is why your death is so very hard to bear.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bunny's Mansion ~ part four

this just in. Bunny is having a moment. the weekend is coming and she is having a relapse of her pensive mood from Thursday so she is posting the final photos of her mansion now. she is also going to reveal what she had thought of as progress though, as she claims at this time, "whooptie big deal."

the first photo of her room behind the mystery veil is the northeast corner. we see paper lantern covered twinkle lights. these were the lights that adorned her bedroom on her wedding night. she doesn't plug them in anymore but they are up.

leaning against the wall is her Dragon's backpack and on top of that is his old bivvy bag that survived his last 2 tours in Vietnam. his first bivvy bag did not survive his first tour. Bunny didn't tell us the story though we know she knows.

on top of the bivvy bag, from left to right, joining Bunny, is Ted who is exactly 52 years old, Lamb who is almost 24 years old and belongs to her son though he doesn't want it in his house since he is a single man and a Lamb would be hard to explain, Snoopy who doesn't need any explanation since he is also Joe Cool, and Jesus. now Jesus we need to explain. Bunny taught the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion to 2nd graders in her old parish for 11 years. she found Jesus to be a comforting presence in the classroom for 7 and 8 year olds who were already tired from a full day of school.

this photo is of the southeast corner. here you see Bunny's "wind horses." they are Tibetan prayer flags that Bunny isn't allowed to hang out on her balcony because of tidiness rules. you see Bunny's desk that has lots of stuff in it and on top. between her closet doors are the collars of all the dogs she's loved over the years from her first dog when she was 7 until the Scottie who died 5 years ago whose remains are in the urn sitting on the floor. and hanging on the closet knob is her Dragon's Alice pack. it was with him in Vietnam. it is with Bunny now. no words are necessary about it. it is sacred.

now here we have Bunny's southwest corner. you can see the continuation of the "wind horses," better see the collar shrine and urn, and now Bunny's dresser has come into view. also a really big piece of driftwood that is strung with colored twinkle lights. on the floor are some of her Dragon's clothes that she has selected for quilts for her daughter and son.

lastly, Bunny's bed and the announcement. the paper lantern twinkle lights end over the window. a crazy quilt made from her children's baby clothes hangs on the wall. another crazy quilt made of scraps hangs above the bed. a unicorn tapestry hangs over the bed so that when Bunny lays down, she's looking at a beautiful unicorn and stars, lots of stars. on old quilt she made a long time ago is her bedspread. and here's the announcement.

Bunny put sheets on her bed. when Bunny first moved here, she slept on the sofa. for almost 5 months, she could not face getting into bed alone. but her back started bothering her. the sofa is too short for Bunny, so she finally moved to the bed. but then, all this time, Bunny has been sleeping on a blanket with a quilt pulled over her.

but now she felt she could actually sleep in the bed - with sheets - like a grown up. she has her pillow with Dragon's picture on it. she likes to pretend Dragon is still with her, standing guard over her while she sleeps.

so that is Bunny's mansion. we are proud of Bunny but we see she isn't paying attention to us anymore. she's looking up at the stars and has a far away look in her eyes. Bunny's eyes are misty and she's remote. she's gone were all widows and widowers go when they become wistful and melancholy.

we will leave Bunny to the rest of her day. we hope to hear from her again soon, but as one tear escapes and slides down her face, we back out of her room, down the hall, past the kitchen, the living room, her office, and her studio. we open her door, turn the lock, and pull it shut.

have a good weekend, Bunny. maybe you could take a little break and sit on your balcony. maybe you could draw. or work on your novels. we want Bunny to be better but we know it's going to take some time. maybe a lot of time.

Bunny's Mansion ~ part three

we here at Lifestyles of the Small and Insignificant would like to say, "we were wrong." we said there would be three entries but there will be four. we - drum roll - apologize. now how many people say that and mean it? few. but we are part of the few. we are proud to stand with the mistake-makers and say, "we were wrong and we APOLOGIZE!" raise your hands with us and .... okay, we're getting carried away.

this will be the next to last entry. so here is today.

Bunny's kitchen. it is behind Bunny's famous chair and shares the wall with her studio. a more lavish yet practical layout we have yet to see.

see her pictures and magnets on her refrigerator? and see all the flags on top? she loves Old Glory. she loves pictures. Bunny loves color. all the white drives her crazy so she covers as much of it up as possible.

sitting beside her Mr. Coffee tea maker, Bunny goes public with the awareness that she drinks green tea all day every day. she is quite the tea drinker, and an underground one at that. that is until C. Everett Koop declared his love of tea and Bunny came out from underneath the tea leaves. now she's an unabashed, and unapologetic we might add, tea drinker.

her dogs have their dishes on the floor beside their water bowl. all is neat and tidy in her little kitchen.

ah, so, that's it we guess. ah, okay. on the wall above Bunny are her photos of her moon. all across her wall. moon after moon after moon.....

poor Bunny. she wishes she didn't have so many moons.

stepping out of the kitchen we glance to the left and see Bunny's long hallway. Bunny used to have the bamboo bead curtains loose but her silly Scotties kept running back and forth through them. when she told them to stop, they would. but then she would turn her back and hear those beads again and again. and she'd hear toenails digging into the carpet as they wheeled and turned, pivoting like football players out on the field doing agility drills.

along the doorknobs to two closets, you can see Bunny's bags. Bunny loves bags. she has 5 of them. crazy Bunny. they are all so old but she keeps them anyway. a girl has to have a bag.

and then there is the curtain of mystery. it softens the entrance to the lonely room behind it. the long, lovely wrap is a deep violet and has gold metallic threads and clusters of red and gold crystal beads. it was a gift from Bunny's beloved Dragon. he got it during one of his little trips out of the country. he couldn't say where but he had gone through a little town's bazaar and bought it for her. he brought it home with him and that was the most important thing to Bunny. it had been a dangerous trip he had had to go on but he had come home. as her Dragon had explained to Bunny, "i had to make it back. i had already bought the scarf thing whatever this is. i'm not good with this stuff. i just know it was pretty and you'd like it."

Bunny loves her Dragon and thinks he is so cute.

and last peek this posting, the next to last posting, is Bunny's ladies room. now here is where absolutely no magic happens. Bunny is so laid back that she doesn't wear makeup. she never has. lip balm and moisterizer, a brush through the hair, and the teeth, and Bunny is ready to meet the Queen. Bunny quips, "inner beauty will have to do." such a philosophical lady.

there are photos of lighthouses on the wall as well as photos of her Dragon. if you click to enlarge the photo you will see her Dragon's hairbrush and his toothbrush sitting side by side with Bunny's things. it's not weird. it's comforting.

some of Bunny's necklaces are hanging on the wall and her earring collection sits on the cabinet top. Bunny used to teach 3 and 4 year old preschool and art to kindergarten through 8th grade so she loved wearing all the crazy earrings her students would give her as gifts. dangling flamingos, cows, dragons. Bunny wears them. Bunny is such a fun person to know, such a crazy girl.

once again we are at the end. we hope you enjoyed this part of the tour. and - ahem - forgive us for the misunderstanding about the, ah, number of postings to show all of Bunny's mansion. we are, after all, human.

tomorrow, there will be 4 photos. it will be the last room of Bunny's mansion, her bedroom. she has a proud announcement that she will make tomorrow about it. she's done something that is a step towards getting better. we'll all just have to wait until tomorrow. Bunny sure knows how to drag this out. just as we were getting bored to tears she announces that she has an announcement. now we have to come back just to see what has happened.

for now, this is Lifestyles of the Small and Insignificant saying Carpe Diem.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bunny's Mansion ~ part two

and we're back. Lifestyles of the Small and Insignificant is bringing you the second part of a three part special on the reclusive artist, Beach Bunny.

yesterday we left Bunny sitting in her Dragon's chair, getting pensive, as a photo of her beloved Dragon appeared on her computer screen. today we're back and Bunny looks tired. bless her little heart. she spent a relatively sleepless night in misery. she misses her husband and today, tonight at midnight, it will be exactly 14 months since he died. Bunny drew through the night and looks hollowed out this morning, but she is up and ready to graciously show us three more areas in her boho-chic pad.

the photo below is Bunny's studio. Bunny is sitting on her work table with clothes spread out that she is presently measuring and sketching as she plans another quilt for someone. we can see that this is supposed to be her dining room but since Bunny doesn't dine per se, she opts to use it as her work space.

and what a work space it is. there's a quilt on the wall that Bunny will be taking down to work on the one from the table. someday it will be Bunny's own memory quilt but she has been working on it for a long time and sets aside quite a bit. there are two of Bunny's own personal pieces of stained glass she has made that she doesn't have the windows to put them in. and there's another driftwood sculpture in repose on the top of Bunny's bookshelf that is simply chock full of books, shells, little stones, and photographs.

Bunny's quilt frame is broken apart and sitting on the floor behind another set of bookshelves and on the right we can see Bunny's little globe that lights up. what a girl. twirling, twirling that little lighted globe remembering all the countries her Dragon pointed out to her that he had been in, all his stories.

and now for the living room. ah, what a spectrum of color and clutter. Bunny makes such great use of a small space. her plants are now all outside clearing the top for her one tender amaryllis. below it are the notions of her trade. threads, needles, trims, beads, and ah, yes, there are the shells and rocks and more photos of her beloved Dragon.

Bunny is reclining on her borrowed sofa - her daughter isn't using it right now. behind her is an ugly orange shag cushion for her back and draped over the top of the sofa is an afghan her mother had knitted so many years ago. on the wall to the left of the blinds are a collection of photos of her children at various ages. such a sentimental soul, she is. on the arm of the sofa is Bunny's latest dragon handkerchief that is in progress while on the ottoman are a pair of jeans she is patching and embroidering.

last but not least we know that on the wall above the sofa is Bunny's first husband quilt. we quietly ask her why it isn't finished and in a low, halting voice, Bunny explains.

"i moved here 7 days after my Dragon died. i was lost and, i was lost. i didn't know what to do, or really how to live without him. i sew and i had all his clothes everywhere. my daughter suggested i make a quilt. so i just started cutting." gazing up at the quilt Bunny's eyes fill with tears. "i can honestly say i had no plan. i do not remember doing it at all. not one stitch. not one section of embroidery. i have no memory of working on it at all. it seems it got bigger and bigger as i went. i can see that. but there was no plan. no talent went into it. it's not finished because i simply do not know what to do with it. it's off. as in not square. i mean i could fix it, not a problem, but if i did, then it wouldn't be the thing, and that's what it is - it's a thing - it wouldn't be the thing that got me through all the days and nights of those first weeks here. it's not representative of a Memory Quilt. it's my grief. that's all it is. it's my grief. i cried over it. all over it. as i was making it. i must have cut myself and stabbed myself a hundred times because i couldn't see due to the tears. i guess, someday...."

Bunny's voice trails off as this "thing," as she calls it, holds her gaze far longer than is comfortable for us.

but finally our sweetly generous little Beach Bunny comes back to us and moves to sit in her chair. The Chair. this is the one she sits in every night for the handwork she does. it's the one she uses to pose her stuffed bunny for the photos. she is posing with her latest dragon handkerchief. such a funny Bunny. we can see the ever present pillow for her aching back, and 2 crocheted afghans and one old chenille bedspread. and there is the stuffed bunny her son sent her that she can put in the microwave lying across the top of her chair. she heats it and then wraps it around her neck and shoulders. Bunny with a bunny. such a cute image comes to mind.

on the side table is an assortment of embroidery floss for her various projects. the lamp has quite a few old rosary beads draped over the shade. and there it is. we can see better. on the ottoman are the jeans Bunny is also working on. such a busy Bunny. such a quiet Bunny today.

she is gazing back off towards her husband quilt and looking a little bit drowsy. i think we'll quietly slip out and let Bunny take a nap if she can. she looks so forlorn and exhausted.

grieving seems to be a very hard thing to do. tomorrow Bunny has said we can see her kitchen and her ladies room. she calls it the ladies room since Bunny lives very much alone and she is a lady. we understand and we think she is very clever to state the obvious like that.

bye, Bunny. here's a cup of hot tea before we go. no, no. don't get up. we'll lock the door behind us. see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bunny's Mansion ~ part one

{i have been very down and i know that only i can reach down, find me, and bring me up to the surface. so with that goal in mind, bear with me as i allow my inner Beach Bunny to give you a tongue-in-cheek guided tour of her mansion.}

Town and Country wanted to do a spread on the fabulous home of the unknown artist, Beach Bunny, but she opted to do her own photo essay for her handful of virtual friends here. Beach Bunny is a reclusive artist whose claim to fame is being the wife/widow/wife of the unknown Marine who served his country in wildly famous ways. his exploits are spoken of in hushed tones in underground garages and in debugged government buildings. no one but a handful know of him but Bunny does and she keeps his memory as a permanent flame in her heart.

Bunny's offbeat sense of humor explains the wife/widow/wife vernacular. "i was his wife. then he died and i was labeled his widow. but i still feel like his wife. so there it is." isn't she a hoot? we love her brevity and stoicism. it's that ability to see things in black and white that give Bunny her rare gift of gab.

Bunny lives in a wonderfully bohemian kind of place. her flair for decorating on a shoe-string is such a blessing since she lives on a shoe-string budget. see how these things work out?

in her first self-portrait, Bunny sits beside her front door {her only door} welcoming all who come by {99% of the time it's her daughter}. you see her keys hanging by a USMC lanyard from the doorknob and her walking stick and glove for her arthritis perched on it for "handy" retrieval. Bunny's knees get iffy so her Dragon's walking stick comes in handy to help her balance on those slippery slopes plus to fend off all the myriad of dogs off the leash that zip around to attack her and her beloved Scotties. to the lower right on the floor, you can see Bunny's husband's blue rope bag full of carabiners and climbing ropes. Bunny's husband, her famous Dragon, used to mountain climb for fun and on some of his little adventure's out of the country. now Bunny uses the bag of ropes as a B&E deterrent, placing it on the floor in front of the door when she retires for the night. silly Bunny. doesn't she know that burglars will climb up onto her balcony and use a glass cutter on her sliders? but she lives in the fantasy world thinking that her Dragon's bag of ropes will keep her safe. that and her barky little dogs.

Bunny's walls are white and she is not allowed to paint them because, well, she doesn't own the place, but one day, Bunny will own a place and the first thing she will do is paint the walls.

now here we have Bunny's television. her Dragon had purchased it when the first moved out to Cape Ann. it is a flat screen and has HD. lucky, lucky Bunny. above the television is a collection of old flags Bunny found in the trash can in a cemetery. they had been put out at the graves of veterans and then thrown away because, well, Bunny has no idea why. our heartsick little Bunny asked the cemetery crew if she could have them and they unceremoniously reached in and handed them to her. with them, she reverently made the wall hanging and embroidered the names of the young men from every POW bracelet she ever wore. the last one has her husband's name.

see our little Beach Bunny sitting on that work table? she is protectively guarding the work she is doing for her fairy godmothers. shhhhh everyone. it's a secret. off to the left you can just see a glimpse of Bunny's office in the frame. and that's where we go next. step to the left, please. {or simply scroll down.}

and here we are at the last photo of today's posting, Bunny's office. here is where the photographs are color corrected, the novels are worked on, and where you have come to know the Bunny we few have come to know.

on the mantle you can easily see Bunny's shrine to her Dragon. his urn, photos, his medals, and of course, his folded flag are seen along with the little Dress Blues bear that Bunny holds so dear. her Dragon's boonie hat is perched on a piece of driftwood that has some of the many things found on the cove Bunny and her Dragon lived beside so lovingly. in front of the fireplace is a piece of driftwood that has more things washed up on the beaches Bunny and her Dragon frequented along with white twinkle lights wound around it. Bunny turns on each evening the make her think of stars.

of some note, above the mantle are two photos of Bunny's Dragon but in the middle is a very rare flag made of red, white, and blue silk. this is the flag that belonged to Bunny's great grandmother when Bunny's grandfather went off to fight in World War I. our Bunny has a deep sentimental side to her. no wonder her feelings can be easily bruised.

shown sitting in her chair, which is actually her Dragon's chair {Bunny had previously used a laptop and would curl up on the floor amongst pillows to write. we told you our Bunny was a bohemian better suited to a Bedouin tent.}, Bunny rests her back against "puppy up close" pillow that she made. and on the floor can be seen her Scotties doggie bed that they never sleep in, but where they leave their many dollar store toys that Bunny breaks down and buys whenever she finds loose change in the sofa cushions.
this is Bunny's photo essay so far. she is a Bunny who knows how to play us, isn't she? she is making us wait for views of the rest of her simple yet lavish little home even though she already took the photos. crazy Bunny.

tomorrow, Bunny promises photos of her studio, her living room, and that famous chair we see parts of so often in her not-quite-famous Bunny photos. we can hardly wait. and as Bunny has seldom said in the last 14 months, but her Dragon had been teaching her to do, Carpe Diem.